In the movie Out of Africa, this scene unfolds:
It's 1913, the soon to be Baroness Karen Blixen who's just arrived in East Africa, enters a Colonial English club looking for her fiancé.
She walks into a bar full of men seated in leather club chairs, smoking pipes, reading papers, etc.
Most of them ignore her, but one motions to a footman who she assumes will help her.
Instead, he says... "Memsahibs must not be here."
Which is a fancy way of saying "No women allowed. Beat it."
Blixen is dumbstruck as she’s unceremoniously kicked out to the tune of,
"Memsahibs must not be here."
Right before the holidays, a client came to me for guidance on how to get a pay increase.
The diagnosis was a common one: underpaid rock star.
We talked and the client made a few very specific changes I suggested.
A few days later, they shared this with me via email
I got a 14% pay increase and a tax-free bonus paid immediately and a second bonus to be paid in the new year.
Part of the advice I gave them?
"Fix the messaging on your profile.” And I told them precisely how to do it.
If you doubt that could make a difference, pay close attention to what follows.
The reason their money didn't match their work was not that they weren't delivering the goods.
They didn’t deliver the message.
Without the messaging, the delivery evaporates into the ether. It loses it's luster and fast.
If they do remember later, it's old news, you were just "doing your job." No sizzle.
The message is the money. (Read that again, please.)
Great work fades without a message to carry it.
We all know that person at work who's, “worth their weight in gold.”
So why are they so often paid in tin?
When you request a pay increase three questions get asked:
Are you really underpaid (followed by 'if so, how'd this happen?")
Are you worth the extra money to us... right now?
What will you do if you don't get what you're asking for?
Even if you’re a noted rock star, someone will have to go out on a limb for you to get your money.
Few will do that without doing some research on their own.
Money is too big a deal to make an ask without back up.
An easy way to do that research is to scope out your LinkedIn Profile.
In their email, my client mentioned that a C-level person in her company anonymously viewed her profile between the ask and the payout of the pay increase.
The unspoken hint in any pay increase request is that you'll leave if you don't get it.
Of course they're going to look at your profile. They'd be crazy and lazy not too.
It's a click away.
And it's your poker hand.
They go to see if you're holding Aces or sitting out this game.
And no one is going to tell you they’ve been checking you out.
Do you tell people? Usually only if they have a massively great profile and often not then.
The paradox is that talented people and good workers often think they don't need to worry about anything but the work... Oh, that it were so.
And it becomes your Achilles heel.
The reason rock stars are often underpaid is you never learn how to craft a message to get up to the next level, you just work harder and wait. (and wait.)
When my client's boss delivered the good news about the pay increase and bonus, he also had some advice: "work on speaking up."
In her time there, Baroness Karen Blixen made a bit of a name for herself in Africa.
When she left, 17 years later, she passed through the same English club.
A man came out of the bar and said, "The gentleman of the club would like to stand you a drink."
Stepping into the same bar she'd been kicked out of nearly two decades before, she shared a drink with them.
Why the gesture?
When you show people you've got game, they will find a way to say, "We see you."
Seventeen years is too long to wait.
The before-and-after changes that scored a bonus and pay raise inside a week have just been added to Booster Shot.
They’re available if you're game.
The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.